UAE foreign minister arrives in Syria to meet senior Assad regime officials


The United Arab Emirates foreign minister landed in Damascus on Tuesday, Lebanese broadcasters reported, a sign of improving ties between President Bashar al-Assad and one of the prominent Arab states that once backed rebels trying to overthrow him.

There was no immediate confirmation from either the UAE or Syrian foreign ministries or the Syrian presidency, and no word on the visit on Syrian state media.

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed would be the most senior Emirati dignitary to visit Syria in the decade since the eruption of a civil war in which several Arab states lined up in support of mainly Sunni Muslim rebels seeking to topple Assad.

The foreign minister arrived with a senior delegation, according to al-Manar TV, which is run by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah, an Assad ally.

The pro-government Syrian newspaper al-Watan cited unofficial media sources “talking about” his arrival.

The United Arab Emirates has been at the forefront of efforts by some Arab states to normalize ties with Damascus, and called for Syria to be readmitted to the Arab League earlier this year. It reopened its embassy in Damascus three years ago.

The United States, a close ally of the UAE, has said it does not support any efforts to normalize ties with Assad or rehabilitate him until progress is made towards a political solution to the conflict.


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